Wilbert Tom

 BORN 15 February 1887
 DIED January 1972 in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.
 FATHER William Tom (1838-1901)
 MOTHER Sarah M Richardson (1854-1901)
 MARRIED Mabel Swain (1907-1999) in 1933 in Thunder Bay.
 CHILDREN   William Wesley Tom
 Phyllis Tom (1937-2023)
 Margaret Lynn Tom

Daughter Margaret comments:
The photo shows him in uniform when he was a 4th class engineer manning engines in Merchant Navy ships taking soldiers to WWI from Canada. That would not have been a pleasant job working in hot engine rooms and at risk of being blown up. He returned home in 1919.WIlbert did not pass the medical to be a foot soldier in WW1 due to having flat feet.

In 1920-21 he worked on the SS Canadian Runner as 3rd engineer, between Canada and the UK. His last discharge paper says January 31,1921.

My father then worked on tugboats in Lake Superior. He was the engineer on the tugboat Arbutus (story below) bringing the repaired boat with the captain, Mr Fader of Fort William (now Thunder Bay) and two American crew members from Marquette, Michigan to Sault Ste Marie, Ontario (Canada) but a bad storm caused the boat to sink about 15 miles from Grand Marais. It was November 24th, 1921, American Thanksgiving. Storms are common that time of year and the lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in the world, known for never giving up its dead due to the extreme cold. My father and the captain survived by hanging onto the wooden mast, so he would say, and his trusty long john woolen underwear saved his life. According to the article they all survived and were picked up by the US Coast Guard and treated to a thanksgiving dinner. The captain, Mr Fader, always praised my dad for saving his life, but my dad used to tell me that he couldn’t shake him off my coat-tails! My father continued to work on boats hauling logs along the lake to Thunder Bay to the pulp mills.

Wilbert built a small home in the outskirts of Port Arthur (now called Thunder Bay) and at one point had a mink farm. He met and married his wife Mabel in 1933. When he gave up the mink farm, as it was not doing well, he surprised Mabel with the pelts and she had a fabulous coat made that she wore with pride the rest of her life. In 1952 they moved into a house in town so that Mabel could be near the hospital where she worked as a registered nurse. Wilbert also worked in the grain elevators and used to mention having to walk up several flights of steps. His last job before retirement was at a local brewery. In 1967 at age 80 they bought a wonderful family cottage at Birch Beach on Lake Superior, and enjoyed that so much in his remaining 5 years of life.

See The Saga of the Arbutus

Wilbert as a teenager.

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⬩⬩⬩ Ourgen.es web page made 7 July 2013; edited  ⬩⬩⬩